THE CORE TEAM
The aerodynamics department is in charge of all the wings, diffusers and general airflow around the car. The department consists mainly of Aerospace engineers, though it also offers a perfect opportunity for anyone wanting to dive into the broad world of aerodynamics. Due to the strict regulations the formula student competitions place on aerodynamic development, our engineers from the aero department have to be exceptionally creative. This makes the aerodynamic package on the cars one of the most interesting things to see every year.
The chassis department is one of the most versatile in all of Formula Student team Delft, using the expertise of many studies, from mechanical engineering to industrial design. The chassis is designed in detail, incorporating factors such as weight, stiffness and ergonomics. In this process making trade offs is key, for example you can make the car as stiff as you want, but by doing so you're adding weight, so finding the perfect balance between advantages from stiffness and disadvantages from weight is essential to the performance of the car.
Our car is basically a computer on wheels - a very fast one, mind you - so having a good team of electronics experts is crucial to getting around the track as quickly as possible. Mainly populated by electrical engineers, the electronics department offers great insight in high- and low voltage applied electrical systems. There is also a huge responsibility for the electronics department, as the components should be sealed off very well. Not just to comply to the rules of the competitions, but more importantly to ensure the safety of our entire crew. This is especially hard with the accessibility of the electronics systems in mind, as we need to be able to change malfunctioning components in the blink of an eye at the events.
Connecting the wheels of the car to the chassis may seems like an easy task, but it is one of the most crucial parts in optimizing the performance of the car. To achieve this a blend of skills including FEM simulation, materials testing and systems engineering is required throughout the year. With setup parameters such as spring- and anti roll bar stiffness, camber and toe our suspension engineers ensure that the chassis, wings and tires are always in optimal position, whilst keeping the ride comfortable and interactive for our drivers.
Where a conventional car has a engine to gearbox and driveshaft to get the power from the engine to the wheels, in our racers the system is a little different. Our drivetrain department has continued to innovate over the past years, finding new ways to deliver our power, which now happens through a set of planet gears in a bespoke inner wheel concept. This out-of-the-box mentality is a standout feature for our drivetrain department and its engineers, with a constant strive to increase efficiency and decrease weight.
We can build the best hardware for our car, but without software, we still weren’t able to drive. Our software department makes sure that all the parts can communicate within the car. This year they have an even bigger challenge; they write code not only for one car but for two. They write the same base code for both cars and then optimise it for the respective car. Since we have thousands of lines of code it is really hard to keep track of all the possible bugs. That is why they are working hard throughout the year to make a robust system. By building our debugging tools we are trying to have an error-free operating system on both cars!
The operations department is the hidden motor behind the team. It consists of a variety of students and their main goal is to get the team through the year as smoothly as possible. From arranging team weekends and supplying the team with food to giving business presentations, planning the race events, and contacting sponsors, the tasks of the operations crew are essential for a well-functioning team. You get to meet lots of people and gather broad knowledge of the car and its engineers as you fill in a communicative and managerial role within the team.
The Management Team is responsible for the overall project. They focus on the long term of our project and facilitate the team with all the resources they need. Next to that, they make inter-department decisions to make sure that we reach our team goal. When a decision needs to be made they focus on three aspects; time, quality and resources. By comparing every scenario they choose the one that is best in line with our team goal.
To replace our drivers eyes we needed new ones. By combining different techniques with their respective pros and cons we build the most optimal perception system. Because we fused these systems we are able to getting lower error rates than by using them separately. Having them properly calibrated is a big challenge. They are all placed on different locations on the car and the error margin is less than a degree.
To be able to drive without a driver we need to know the position of our car at all time. The State Estimation department is always working on combining several techniques to make sure that we know the exact x,y and z position of the car within sub-centimetre precision. Other departments such as path planning rely on the location of our car. State Estimation delivers that location by smartly combining several systems. This year they combine LiDar, camera's and GPS to calculate the location as precisely as possible.
This department replaces the feet and hands of a driver. They give input to the steering actuator and the motors. With information, they get from other departments and by using algorithms they can send high- and low-level controls. To be able to drive on the limits they need to make sure that we can send data fast enough for the car not to spin out. Next to that, they have to find a solution to model as many variables as possible without having a too complex and slow system. By looking at data we gathered from previous years they can build the best control system ever.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND SIMULATION
Going out to test on our outdoor test track is expensive. It costs a lot of resources, so it is efficient to be able to test little improvements in our workshop. To make this possible the Infrastructure and Simulation department build a simulation tool in which we can completely simulate our test track. By doing so we can easily test in our workshop and we can make sure that only big changes are tested on our track. They made sure we could play around with all the different setups so that we completely can understand the car behaviour.